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1949-1956 China

Exploration of Social, Political, Economic and Military Changes in the early years of the PRC

Brenton Millott

on 27 August 2013

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Transcript of 1949-1956 China

‘The Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC) strives for independence, democracy, peace, unity, prosperity, and the strength of China … It must systematically transform the country from an agricultural into an industrial one … The people shall have freedom of thought, speech, publication, assembly, religious belief and the freedom of holding processions and demonstrations. The PRC shall abolish the feudal system which holds women bondage. Women shall enjoy equal rights with men … The PRC shall suppress all counter-revolutionary activities; severely punish all Guomindang counter-revolutionary war criminals and other leading counter revolutionary elements … Feudal landlords, capitalist and reactionary elements in general shall be deprived of their political rights.”
The Common Program of the CCP
(29 September 1949)
Women's Rights
Land Reforms
Health Campaigns
Social Reforms
Agrarian Land Reform (June 1950)
Control of land was given to local authorities and then redistributed on a fair and equal basis
Millions of peasants began supporting the CCP as the best party for governing China
Speak Bitterness Campaigns emerged
Chance for former oppressed peasants to voice their anger at former landlords
What started out peaceful turned violent:
Regional party leaders were instructed to organise public denunciation meetings.
Peasants who had been wronged, exploited, mistreated or abused by these individuals were encouraged to step forward and tell their stories.
There was no time limit on testimonies, no formality of process and certainly no opportunity for cross-examination - 'speak bitterness' meetings could be very long, emotional, hostile and one-sided.
Jasper Becker: "Between two and five million landlords may have been executed..."
Fanshen (Land Reforms)
Mao Zedong proclaimed that "women hold up half the sky".
The outlawing of foot-binding, concubinage and prostitution.
The Marriage Law, passed in 1950, made arranged/coerced marriages and beating of wives illegal but also went further, removing the hierarchical distinctions between men and women, parents and children. Women were now the equal of their husbands legally, in matters of divorce and property ownership.
Women were welcomed into both the workforce and the party, on equal terms. Equal pay and provisions for maternity leave and childcare were introduced into many workplaces.
Women's Rights
Health Campaigns
Street Committee officials visited each household to inspect and critique housework
Improvements in Public Health
Inoculations against disease
Education Campaigns discouraged spitting, public urination, closure of brothels, rehabilitation for Opium addicts all improved the health of Chinese
Internal & External Impacts
San Fan & Wu Fan
Denunciations and Culture of Spying
Korean War
Mao hesitant to join war but feared enemy on the border
Korean War: Success or Failure?
Success: for first time in 100 years, "China had stood up" and not been defeated by a foreign power
Failure: Over 500,000 Chinese had died in the war
Korean War
Internal: China launched a series of campaigns in "oppositionled to Westernism" - led to a series of anti campaigns and a culture of spying

External: ties with America would be severed and plans to invade Taiwan were scrapped.
Internal & External Impacts
Three Antis (Sanfan) in 1951
Graft, Waste & Bureaucracy
Originally targeted to those in government, transferred to anyone who had former connections with Western Institutions, unsuitable backgrounds or those deemed to be resisting change.
Those accused on the flimsiest of reasons were subject to Mass Struggle and Self Criticism: 10,000s this means quick trials and executions.
Extended to Five Antis (WuFan) in 1952
Bribery, Tax Evasion, Theft of State Property, Cheating on Government Contracts & Stealing of Economic Information (Industrial Espionage)
The campaign was far reaching and ruined many innocent lives.
Anti Campaigns - Sanfan & Wufan
The resentment against the USA and fears of an invasion provoked an internal reaction.
Unlike Russia, which used a secret police, China relied on its own people to spy on each other.
Party cadres encouraged everyone to watch for 'reactionary' & 'counter-revolutionary' leanings amongst neighbors and colleagues.
Few people were tried in a court; mass meetings were organised for suspected.
Struggle Sessions: In general, the victim of a struggle session was forced to admit to various crimes before a crowd of people who would verbally and physically abuse the victim until he or she confessed.
Sessions could last for days; punishment could be through public denunciation (which led many to commit suicide), imposition of large fines, hard labour or even execution
Denunciations &
Culture of Spying
The CCP set up a new political structure, which branched out from the capital (Beijing) all the way to local provinces.
'Mao Zedong Thought' the official state ideology,
Mao himself had effectively become:
head of state
head of foreign affairs
commander-in-chief of the armed forces
and CCP party chief.

Gao Gang Affair in 1953/54
- first purging of the party
Political Reforms
Military Affairs Committee (PLA)
The Party (CCP)
Politburo Standing Committee
Premier: Zhou Enlai
Peng Dehuai
Lin Biao
Head of CCP and State:
Mao Zedong
Zhu De
Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai,
Zhu De,
Chen Yun, Liu Shaoqi
Deng Xiaoping
Stabilisation of the economy
First Five Year Plan
Agricultural Restructuring
Economic Reforms
New currency is introduced in May 1949 (Yuan)
Foreign Cash banned
Nationalisation of all banks
Wages based on prices of 5 basic items
Flour, Coal, Rice, Cotton Cloth & Oil
Price controls brought in
Wages stayed in line with the basic cost of living
Reformation of tax laws
Inflation: 85000% in 1949 to 15% in 1951
Mao stabilises the economy
Soviet Union looked to for future development
Priority Industries (Heavy Industry)
88% of Government Budget targeted at Heavy Industry
Minimal expenditure on agriculture
Difficulty in repaying Soviet loans further exacerbated the situation
Soviet Assistance:
10,000 engineers and advisers,
28,000 sent to USSR for training
Setting of production quotas - most industrial targets were met (or exceeded). 10 - 16% increase in overall production
Expansion of railway network
First Five Year Plan (1953)
Mao travels to Moscow: Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance 14 Feb 1950.
However, relations were always strained
Mao's "third path" to socialism from 1953 onwards
Sino-Soviet Relations
Government Attempts to 'advance socialism' in the countryside
Mutual Aid Teams (10 families) working together for a short-term basis
Staged Collectivisation
Cooperatives (20-40 families): pooling of resources but peasants still owned land. Peasants received payment depending on land ownership and labour contributed
Collectives, or higher Cooperatives (100-300 families): land ownership became collective; farmers were paid on labour only.
It was argued that with a excess labour in collectives, small scale irrigation projects could be conducted.
However, this process was met with resistance in some areas: The peasants did not want to give up their land!
PRC: 1949-1956
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